NHS (Funding)

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th February 1988.

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Photo of Mr Ron Davies Mr Ron Davies , Caerphilly 12:00 am, 29th February 1988

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he next intends to meet representatives of health authorities in Wales to discuss the funding of the National Health Service; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

I met health authority chairmen in November and discussed a range of funding issues. Revenue funding has increased by 9·1 per cent. for 1987–88 over 1986–87.

My next meeting is likely to take place in June.

Photo of Mr Ron Davies Mr Ron Davies , Caerphilly

When the Secretary of State meets representatives from the Mid Glamorgan health authority, will he have anything to offer them to help meet their estimated £3·8 million shortfall during the coming financial year? Is he aware that one of the consequences of his cuts is a nursing shortage which is so severe that, in some geriatric hospitals in Mid Glamorgan, terminally ill patients are being left to face their final hours without any nursing care? Does he not think that we should do something about that?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will bear in mind the cash increase in revenue funding for Mid Glamorgan health authority this year of £10·5 million, or nearly 9 per cent., over the 1986–87 figure, and the growth in recurrent revenue resources from 1978–79 to date, which has increased by nearly 30 per cent.

Photo of Mr Gareth Wardell Mr Gareth Wardell , Gower

Why is the Secretary of State not funding a single intensive care cot anywhere in Wales?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

From his interest in this subject, the hon. Gentleman knows about the improvement in care for young babies and that the improvement in the mortality rate has been substantial. I hope that that improvement will continue.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth , Mid Worcestershire

In the light of improvements in the number of patients treated and the funding which my right hon. Friend has announced, and which is welcome in Wales, is he surprised that some health authorities claim that a crisis has overtaken them without any warning and that they have not done more to deal with the problems which they claim exist? Will he invite those same authorities to submit their positive plans for improvement of the Health Service as part of the review now being undertaken by the Government?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

Financial budgeting and financial management reviews are taking place and they are extremely important. My hon. Friend mentioned the number of patients being treated, and that is considerable. The number of in-patients treated is 84,000 a year up on the number treated when we took office, and the number of out-patients treated is 76,000 a year up on the number treated when we took office.

Photo of Mr Geraint Howells Mr Geraint Howells , Ceredigion and Pembroke North

Will the Secretary of State consider giving extra financial aid to the East Dyfed health authority so that it can build the second phase of Bronglais hospital at Aberystwyth?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

All such matters under the capital investment programme come up for discussion, and obviously they will be given proper consideration.

Mr. Alan Williams:

I am sure the Secretary of State will recognise that we are discussing the future spending on health in Wales against a background, not just of shortages of nurses and doctors and the lowest number of hospital beds available since the Health Service was set up, but of unforgivable waiting lists. Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that, on the basis of his published spending plans for the next three years, he could spend £230 million more on health in Wales if he achieved only the average annual increase that was achieved under the last Labour Administration? [Interruption.] As the right hon. Gentleman laughs at that, may I put to him a more modest objective? May I point out to him that, astonishingly, he could spend £191 million more if only he—

Mr. Williams:

Yes it is. The hon. Gentleman is not a Welsh Member and he should let us ask Welsh questions in our own way.

Does the Secretary of State not realise that he could be spending £191 million more if only he sustained a level achieved by his late, unlamented predecessor? Therefore, does he not appreciate that in Wales—

Photo of Mr Nicholas Bennett Mr Nicholas Bennett , Pembroke

This is is not a question.

Mr. Williams:

Yes it is. I have asked a series of questions and I want answers.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. But please not too many questions.

Mr. Williams:

I have no doubt that you, Mr. Speaker, are directing your comments at the Conservative Benches as well.

Does the Secretary of State not recognise that in Welsh eyes it does not take much to do better than Nicholas Edwards, but it takes either sheer incompetence or wilful neglect to do worse?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

In the long history of shadow Secretaries of State for Wales there cannot have been a worse one than the present incumbent. I leave the right hon. Gentleman to explain how it was that, in the last year of the Labour Government of which he was a Minister and, therefore, had partial responsibility, waiting lists in Wales increased by more than in any other year in history. It is interesting that he said that there are now fewer beds available, but he did not mention that there are now 4,000 more nurses, many more doctors and many more patients being treated.